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Arthur Edward Canning

Lance Corporal T/358561 Arthur Edward Canning, 4th Anti-Aircraft Workshop , Army Service Corps (Mechanical Transport)


Arthur was born in 1876 in Winterbourne, the son of James Canning and his wife Caroline. It was a large family, Arthur had eleven siblings: William George (b1868), Caroline (1870), James (1872), Henry (1874), Ann Maria (1878), Alfred (1880), Brice (1882), Edith Emma (1883), Albert Edwin (1885), Frederick (1888-1909), and Rupert (1889).  Their father died, aged only 43, in 1890 leaving his widow to raise the younger children (six of whom were still 10 or under). No doubt the elder siblings, who were old enough to be earning, including 14 year-old Arthur, would have helped with the family bills; nevertheless the loss of the main breadwinner was a severe financial as well as emotional blow.


20 Carnarvon Terrace

Carnarvon Terrace in West Street, Newbury - once there were 20 houses,

now only 16 remain. Arthur lived at No 20.

Arthur began work as an errand boy, typical employment for young teenagers in a town like Newbury. Such employment, as the name suggests, was for youngsters while they grew and built up the strength to take on adult work. Arthur became a painter and decorator, working for a local builder. Over time he became the head of the household, appearing as such in local directories from 1906, when the family were living at 2 Northcroft Terrace. Later they moved to 20 Carnarvon Terrace, where they were still living when news of Arthur’s death in France reached them.


When war broke out in August 1918 many rushed to enlist and ‘do their bit’, but Arthur does not appear to have been among them, his name does not appear in the Active Service Roll printed in the local paper for the first 18 months of the war. This listed Newbury men who were doing some sort of service with the military and included several Cannings, but not Arthur.  However, it is possible that he was serving, but no one had told the collator of the list. Nevertheless it is more likely that he was conscripted in 1916 when he was 39 years-old.


Army Service Corps badge

The regimental badge of the Army Service Corps, as used on CWGC headstones.

Probably owing to his age and general fitness he was posted to the Army Service Corps (ASC) and given the service number T/358561. The T/ prefix was normally allocated to men involved in horse transport, but Arthur ended up serving as an officer’s servant in a motor transport workshop (had he begun with the motorised element of the Corps his number would have had an MT/ prefix).


He was working with the 4th Anti-Aircraft Workshop, a part of 698 Company, ASC. This was an ‘army’ level unit, meaning that it served an entire army, of which there were five that made up the British Expeditionary Force in 1918.


Workshops such as this were situated out of the range of enemy artillery, where essential repairs and maintenance could be carried out uninterrupted by the enemy. However, it was impractical to place them so far from German territory to be out of range of enemy aircraft. Any military installation was an attractive target for enemy aircraft which would bomb and strafe units well behind the lines. If the enemy pilot was aware that the workshop was servicing the British anti-aircraft guns it would have been a doubly attractive target!


It was in such a raid that Arthur died on 30 May 1918:


Newbury Weekly News, 12 June 1918 – Died on Service
CANNING – May 30, killed by enemy aircraft in France, Lce-Cpl Arthur E Canning, son of Mrs Canning, 20, Carnarvon Terrace, West-street, aged 43 years.


More information was printed in the Local War Notes column:


Newbury Weekly News, 20 June 1918 – Local War Notes
Lce-Corpl Arthur E Canning, of 20, Carnarvon-terrace, who was killed by aircraft in France on May 30th, was well-known in Newbury. He was personal servant to an officer, who has written to his mother, a very sympathetic letter, expressing the regret of the officers, NCOs and men of the Company. He said, ‘Your son was most popular with all ranks, willing and zealous in the execution of his duty, and his loss is felt very keenly. Nothing was ever a trouble to him, and he was always willing and cheerful.’


Name on Newbury War Memorial

Arthur's name on Newbury War Memorial.

(lower right)

He was buried at Longuenesse (St. Omer) Souvenir Cemetery in grave V. B. 42.


Locally he is remembered on tablet 10 of the Newbury Town War Memorial and also on the memorial board and roll of honour in St Nicolas’ Church, Newbury.

 

 

Arthur Douglas Canning

 

Arthur's brother Albert had a son born on the Isle of Wight in 1919 who he named Arthur Douglas, no doubt in memory of Arthur. In WW2 Arthur Douglas served with the 6th Battalion, Seaforth Highlanders and died in the Anzio beachead on 31 May 1944. In 1950 his name was among those added to the Newbury Town War Memorial (tablet 14) in commemoration of the town's losses in the second war.


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 Died this day:
17 October 1917
William Young
Pangbourne

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